23rd February 2014

Wearable Technology – What your clothes say about you


Remember when telephones simply made calls, photographs were taken using cameras and wristwatches were for telling the time? Now all this and more can be done using your smartphone; along with browsing the internet, playing music and games, navigating, identifying planets and so on.

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Statistics from July 2014 reported that there were 2.5M apps available for download via Google Play and Apple’s App Store, allowing for a dizzying amount that can be achieved by phone alone.

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The definition of ‘wearable tech’ is simply any item that can be worn which contains computer technology, or has the ability to connect to the internet. The evolution of smartphone capability has thrown up a mass of possibilities. Now your phone can link to various wearable devices from watches, ankle and wrist bands, headphones, spectacles, even mouth guards, to tell you all sorts of things from correcting your posture to detailed biometrics.

These may currently be at a price point that makes them somewhat elitist, but its eventual trickle down into general life is an absolute certainty. At the moment, wearable tech seems to be mostly used for sporting activities and monitoring fitness, with thousands of apps available telling you how far, fast, high or hard you’ve worked. Some can work out a training programme based on your fitness levels and give you encouragement or kudos along the way.

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There are sleep monitoring apps that you can slip between the sheets to measure your heart rate and respiration, allowing you to wake up to a report on your sleeping patterns.

Just before you nod off, you might want to try using Bondara SexFit, a wearable ring shaped device which claims to be able to measure and track your sexual performance by recording calories burned and thrusts per minute during sex. The jury’s out on the purpose of this. Would users be aiming to beat their own ‘score’ or an ex-partner’s?

Some wristbands are being developed to encourage contactless payment, while fashion technology enables some textiles to respond to thought patterns by changing colour. Bluetooth technology is being used to help users locate lost items such as finding their car in a busy car park. What are the ethics on anxious parents slipping one of these devices into their children’s bags as a security device/ to keep tabs on them?

Navel-gazing narcissism and competitiveness are human traits, but where will it end?

Perhaps wearable tech jewellery will allow wedding rings to track errant partners, or items of clothing will be able to tell you if you’re dehydrated, deficient in certain vitamins or allergic to particular foods? Perhaps it could even be used by the medical industry to detect the early onset of diseases like cancer.

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However this plays out, it doesn’t take a top trend forecast analyst to predict that ‘wearable tech’ is going to be the next big thing, but it’s going to look very different from how they imagined it in the 60’s.

By Deanna Thomas, consumer copy writer